Vinny Del Negro in three seasons as head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers presided over a team he helped transform into one of the most exciting squads in the NBA. In five seasons as an NBA head coach, Del Negro owns a career regular season record of 210-184 (.533) and a playoff record of 10-19 (.345).
Del Negro led the Clippers to the greatest season in franchise history in 2012-13, guiding the team to its first-ever Pacific Division title and a franchise best 56-26 record en route to earning home court advantage in the 2013 Playoffs for just the second time since 1984. Del Negro was the Western Conference Coach of the Month in December as he led the Clippers to a 16-0 month in the midst of a historic 17-game winning streak. That season, Del Negro became the fastest coach in Clippers history to win 100 games, needing just 184 games to accomplish the feat. Under Del Negro, the Clippers owned the best record in the NBA at the halfway mark at 32-9 and broke numerous team and franchise records.
Del Negro’s success in 2012-13 came after a strong 2011-12 regular season marked a turning point in team history. After an offseason of roster changes and an abbreviated preseason, Del Negro’s Clippers surged to the team’s highest winning percentage in history followed by a stunning first round upset against the Memphis Grizzlies in a playoff series that would go down as one of the NBA’s most exciting. In one of the NBA’s greatest playoff comebacks, game one saw the Clippers emerge from 21 points down at the start of the fourth quarter to win and tie the record for the largest comeback to start the fourth quarter in playoff history.
After a series of tightly contested games and key injuries to three starters (Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Caron Butler), the Clippers finished off the Grizzlies in a stunning game seven road victory in Memphis, making the Clippers the first team in NBA history to win games one and seven on the road in a first round playoff series. This also marked the franchise’s first game seven victory (1-2 all-time) and the team’s first-ever series win over a higher seeded opponent. Although the Clippers would eventually fall to the top seeded San Antonio Spurs in the Conference Semi-Finals, Del Negro guided his team to one of the most exciting seasons in franchise history.
Del Negro’s contributions didn’t stop on the sidelines at the end of the postseason. During the 2012 offseason, Del Negro joined forces in a leadership triumvirate with team President Andy Roeser and Vice President of Basketball Operations Gary Sacks to jointly manage the summer’s transactions.
During his first season with Los Angeles in 2010-11, Del Negro led a roster that began the season as the ninth youngest in the league and established the Clippers as a fast-breaking, tenacious club that showcased relentless energy and potential by recording victories against every Division winner in the NBA. Eight times in 2010-11, Del Negro started the youngest overall starting lineup in franchise history with an average age of 21.4 years. His emphasis on defense was apparent as the Clippers jumped from 21st in the NBA in Defensive Field Goal Percentage in 2009-10 to 10th in Del Negro’s first season in Los Angeles. Under Del Negro’s leadership in 2010-11, the Clippers set the team record for most consecutive home victories, logging nine straight wins at STAPLES Center from January 5th – January 31st, a stretch that included wins against the Denver Nuggets, Miami Heat and the Lakers.
The 2010-11 campaign also marked the second time in three seasons that Del Negro coached the NBA Rookie of the Year, guiding Blake Griffin to a historic rookie season just like he did with Chicago’s Derrick Rose during the 2008-09 campaign. It was the third time in NBA history that a head coach in his first season with a franchise has coached two different Rookies of the Year, and just the fourth time ever that a coach has had multiple Rookies of the Year in his first three seasons. Del Negro’s successful history of developing young talent is also evident in the early career success of Bulls draft pick Taj Gibson (26th overall selection in 2009 NBA Draft), who was named First Team All-Rookie under Del Negro, and Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe (18th overall selection in 2010 NBA Draft), named Second Team All-Rookie.
Del Negro joined the Clippers after having led the Chicago Bulls to two consecutive trips to the NBA Playoffs (2009 and 2010) after back-to-back 41-41 (.500) seasons. The Bulls were eliminated in the first round of the 2010 Playoffs (1-4) by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Chicago played a memorable seven-game first round series (3-4) against the defending NBA Champion Boston Celtics in 2009 that many consider the best postseason series in NBA history. Four of the seven games went into overtime, including a triple-overtime win in Game 6, a double-overtime win in Game 4 and an overtime win in Game 1.
Del Negro joined a select list of coaches in NBA history with no prior coaching experience to lead his team to the playoffs in his first two seasons as an NBA head coach. (Billy Cunningham, Philadelphia – 1978 and 1979; Doug Collins, Chicago – 1987 and 1988; Larry Bird, Indiana – 1999 and 2000). During a memorable stretch of the 2009-10 season, Del Negro led the Bulls to five consecutive victories on the road, all against teams with above .500 or better records (at Phoenix, at Houston, at San Antonio, at Oklahoma City and at New Orleans), which marked the first time in NBA history a team had achieved that feat.
Prior to his time with the Bulls, Del Negro served as Assistant General Manager of the Phoenix Suns during the 2007-08 campaign after a promotion from his previous role of Director of Player Personnel, which he held for the 2006-07 season. Del Negro moved to the front office after working three seasons (2003-06) as a color analyst for the Suns’ broadcast teams. His broadcast career also included stints as an analyst for ESPN’s “NBA Matchup” and as an analyst for the San Antonio Spurs. In 2013 joined NBA TV with TNT as an NBA analyst.
Del Negro retired from his 14-year professional playing career following the 2001-02 season. (12 NBA seasons and 2 seasons with Benetton Treviso in the Italian A1 League). Over his 12-year NBA career, Del Negro averaged 9.1 points in 771 regular season games, while tallying 8.8 points in 54 playoff games. Del Negro was originally drafted by the Sacramento Kings in the second round (29th overall) of the 1988 NBA Draft. After spending two seasons in Sacramento, Del Negro signed with Benetton Treviso, where he averaged 25.4 points and 4.4 rebounds in 65 games over a two-year span (1990-92), leading the team to its first Italian League Championship in 1992 while being named playoff MVP. In 1992 Del Negro returned to the NBA, embarking on a six-season stint with the San Antonio Spurs (1992-98). During his time in San Antonio, Del Negro helped lead the Spurs to the playoffs on five occasions including two Midwest Division titles, and still holds the team’s record for consecutive free throws made (50). He was named to San Antonio’s 25th Anniversary Team as one of the top 25 players in Spurs history.
After his time in San Antonio, Del Negro played two seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks (1998-00), one season with the Golden State Warriors (2000-01) and finished his career with two seasons in Phoenix (2000-02). Throughout his career, Del Negro played for some of the greatest coaches in NBA history including George Karl, Dick Motta and Gregg Popovich.
Del Negro played four collegiate seasons at North Carolina State under the late Jim Valvano, averaging 9.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists over his career. He helped the Wolfpack to four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, including back-to-back trips to the Elite Eight (1985 and 1986). He was also named the winner of the Everett Case Award as the MVP of the 1987 ACC Tournament, leading NC State to the tournament championship. Del Negro was named to the All-ACC First Team his senior season after tallying 15.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game while shooting .515 from the field and .839 from the free throw line. As a culmination to his career at North Carolina State, Del Negro had his jersey retired in 2001.Del Negro attended Suffield Academy in Suffield, Connecticut and was inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002 after leading Suffield to the 1983 and 1984 New England Championships. He had his #21 retired by the school in February, 2008. In 1991 established the Vinny Del Negro Endowment Fund in Springfield for the Brightside organization which is set up to help physically abused youths. One of five professional athletes honored by USA WEEKEND with the Most Caring Athlete Award in 1994. In 1996 formed the All Star Connection 4 San Antonio an organization which raised funds for schools in San Antonio. Was recognized by the Texas Legislature in 1997 for the program. In 1999 was honored by Governor Paul Cellucci of Massachusetts with its Service Award. In 2013 was the national Service Above Self recipient presented by The Rotary Club and Basketball Hall of Fame for his charitable efforts. Del Negro’s father, Vin, played collegiately under Adolph Rupp at the University of Kentucky. Vincent Joseph Del Negro was born on August 9, 1966 in Springfield, Massachusetts. Vinny and his wife Lynn met at North Carolina State University.